We spoke to Anna Breward, a student at De Montfort University who is currently on placement with Studio Courtenay about her process and design inspiration - as well as how she is getting on in our small team! You can shop the range of designs she's exclusively created for us here.
What draws you to the fashion industry?
To me fashion and clothing is a platform which allows me to share my views and opinions with the world. Whether you like it or not everyone wears clothing and makes a decision everyday about what they wear.
We need to be more decisive with these decisions and create less of an impact on the planet. I believe with fashion, the beauty is in the journey; every design should tell a story and every garment should have a past.
Fashion is history, art, craftsmanship and experimentation, what is there not to like? I want to use all of these to hopefully create a more positive innovative future for fashion and ultimately the planet.
What do you enjoy most about working at Studio Courtenay?
I really enjoy being around creative people in an industry setting, every day I feel like I am learning things that will help me in my future career.
At University you don't really see anything outside of the designing process, here I am speaking to manufacturers, handling social media, styling, shooting and developing my knitting skills. Plus the constant stream of biscuits and Greggs coffees are a major bonus!
Have you gained any new knowledge or skills which you would not be able to gain only by attending university?
Through being on placement with Studio Courtenay I have found both my photography and styling skills have massively improved. With a studio full of 1000+ pieces of clothing I am learning to embrace colour and pattern more and more. This was previously a weak point for me within my work. I believe my time here will really help me when it comes to designing my final collection next year.
How did the idea of a knitwear capsule collection appear? Was it your initiative? What is the main driver behind it?
I initially approached Studio Courtenay with the hope of securing a placement as part of my degree. After showing my portfolio and previous work at my interview we came up with the idea of a collaboration. My previous work fit well with the Studio Courtenay aesthetic and worked really well with their upcoming collection.
With this in mind we adapted some of my previous knitwear pieces and designed some new ones exclusively for Studio Courtenay and their new range. The ultimate driver behind the capsule collection was to bring a new knitwear element to Studio Courtenay that can be layered and mixed and matched with both vintage and new pieces. It also allowed me as a student to share my work with a wider audience, which I am so grateful for!
How did you learn to knit?
I learnt to hand knit and crochet from my grandma at a young age. That initially spiked my interest and made me look for a degree that allowed me to experiment with knit and knitwear as a whole.
Throughout my first year of University I learnt the basics of machine knitting and that was it for me, I had my own machine at home, and I was going to learn as much as I could!
I practiced and developed my techniques and skills at University and managed to add a knitwear element into every project and brief I could. Any time off Uni I spent making samples and garments for myself and that is ultimately what led to this collaboration.
How did you come up with the design and patterns?
Taking inspiration from Studio Courtenay’s moodboard and colour palette I adapted and developed some of my previous work to create the 3 block colour camisoles and the Lilly vest. Funnily enough I came in wearing a previous iteration of the Lilly vest and Anna and Louisa loved it that much that we changed a few sizing issues, picked a fun and funky yarn and the Lilly vest you see today was born. The Sophia was the real wildcard of the collection. I am not the best with colour and pattern but after discussing one of my previous techniques we came up with the vibrant wavy dream that is the Sophia.
Do you predict a promising future for knitwear in the next year or two?
As a manufacturing technique fully fashioned knitwear is one of the most sustainable ways of producing a garment. Each piece is knitted to the exact shape that is needed so no offcuts or waste are created apart from the few ends of yarn that are used to start and end a pattern piece.
With the industry finally becoming more conscious and aware of its impact on the planet I predict knitwear and its use will become more prominent within the industry. There are already yarns being produced which are made from textile waste or in our case plastic bottles. Knitwear is such an explorative, creative manufacturing technique which I think we will be seeing more and more of in the coming years.
What is next for Anna B?
That's a big question! In the immediate future, once I have completed my placement at Studio Courtenay I will be moving down to London to complete my next placement at Knitster LDN. There I will hopefully develop my knitwear even further, ready for my final year at University and my final collection.
After graduating, Covid dependent, I would love to find a position designing knitwear and knitted textiles, one abroad would just be the dream!